Profile: Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa

By | April 21, 2018

[April 21, 2017]  Growing up in the Deep South of the United States never stunted my intellectual growth because I was surrounded by military veterans who told of their experiences.  Once such story was relayed to me by my father, who spoke with retired U.S. Army General “Black Jack” Pershing.  Pershing told my father of the story of tracking the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.

This certainly must have been an exciting tale to hear from the man himself who was the American hero of World War I.  But Pershing never caught up to Pancho Villa who was sly as a fox and was never caught by U.S. soldiers.

To this day, Pancho Villa remains a hero to many Mexicans and various revolutionary movements throughout the world for his cunning, bravery, and protection of the poor.  But Pancho Villa was a flawed man who cared more about himself and his prestige than most are willing to admit.  Like many revolutionaries of the 20th Century, he began as a bandit who would conduct hit and run raids for profit.

From the many writings about Pancho Villa, here are the leadership characteristics that helped make him who he was:

  • Fiercely dedicated to the people of Mexico and especially to its poor
  • Loyal to his men and those who supported him
  • Ruthless, cunning, and quick tempered
  • Politically astute and aggressive
  • Brilliant tactician (his tactics were actually studied by the U.S. Army at the time)
  • Physically courageous

Legends have sprung up about Pancho Villa.  His reputation as a great military leader of the Mexican Revolution,1 whose exploits were regularly filmed by Hollywood filmmakers is largely accurate.

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  1. https://www.biography.com/people/pancho-villa-9518733
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “Profile: Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa

  1. Bryan Lee

    Good list of characteristics. And, yes, I also believe revolutionaries tend to be thugs.

  2. Martinameld

    Hello my name is Martinameld. Very good-hearted article! Thx 🙂

  3. Tracey Brockman

    Reading the comments section today made me laugh, especially Mark’s post. Yes, I too recommend more of these mostly on weekends. Thank you Brig Gen Satterfield for today’s inoculation of leadership.

  4. Kenny Foster

    Another great Mexican revolutionary was Emiliano Zapata. His story is just as interesting as Pancho Villa who gained most of his fame from raiding towns in the southernwestern parts of the U.S.

    1. José Luis Rodriguez

      Zapata’s army was unique in that he allowed women to join the ranks and serve as combatants. This is another reason Zapata is more a hero than Villa.

  5. Mark Evans

    Indeed !! Thanks for the post today to make my Saturday morning a pleasure read. For a future profile might I recommend James Comey, Hillary Clinton (need a redo after her failed presidential run), Bernie Sanders, or Chuck Schumer. I’m sure they all have similar qualities to Pancho Villa (ha).

    1. Danny Burkholder

      Thank you Anita but I couldn’t make it through the article. Way too technical.

  6. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Good article today Gen. Satterfield. Useful and straightforward. I’ll use this and some of your others in my classes.

  7. Janna Faulkner

    There are many documentaries on Pancho Villa but if you want to see one in English, it will be hard to find them. Nearly all videos on this Mexican “hero” are in Spanish which is unfortunate for those who don’t speak the language. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4CyxBIY8m4

    1. Dennis Mathes

      Right, that was the same problem I had. In fact, I couldn’t find a decent documentary in English on him at all.

  8. Dale Paul Fox

    Your series on leader profiles are a nice addition to your regular posts. I recommend readers go back and look through the older ones so they can compare “leadership characteristics.”

  9. José Luis Rodriguez

    Good, educational article today on a Mexican revolutionary. Most folks around the world don’t appreciate what Mexico has done for us and that it has a rich history.

  10. William L. Anthony

    Revolutions have always fascinated me for a variety of reasons. The most important one is the study of the revolutionaries themselves. I agree with Gen Satterfield that in the early part of the revolution (a war by another name) most of those who begin it are thugs (or intellectuals). Later, when most people are on the bandwagon, this chagnes.

  11. Albert Ayer

    I think there was more than one exception; like the French Revolution, but I get your point Army Captain. Most revolutionaries (patriots or terrorists) are thugs in the beginning. Who else would have the skills necessary to start a war against their government. Just look at South & Central America and Africa as examples of when the thugs took over.

  12. Army Captain

    Like all revolutionaries, they are really good at tactics but suck at strategy. That is why very few revolutions have ever succeeded. When they did succeed, like in Cuba, the results were not pretty for the people. The US is an exception.

    1. Jerry Jones

      Spot on with your comments again, Army Captain.

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